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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Difference

Yesterday I started coughing like a barking seal.  My head was stuffy.  My ears were full and my throat was raw and scratchy.

Claire said, "Mom, you don't look like you feel well" as I puttered around in the kitchen, unloading the dishwasher, putting things away and coughing into my elbow.

I nodded as a sneeze wound its way into my nasal passages and said, "You're right, Claire.  I don't feel well at all." Ahhhh-CHOO!

Claire kept looking at me and said, "Can I fix you a cup of tea?  I think that's what you need."

Oh, would I ever like a cup of tea!  That would be fabulous!  My heart swelled with an offer so sweet.

Enter Zach...

He came meandering into the kitchen right around the time Claire produced my cup of sweetness.  "Hey, Mama!  I'm hungry.  Can you fix me something to eat," he asked as I stood by my cup of tea and hacking up half a lung.  I told him there were three DiGorno pizzas outside in the freezer and he was welcome to bake one.  He gave me a pouty face, stuck out his bottom lip and put on his best puppy dog eyes for me.  He didn't stop to look at me or hear the barking seal sounds coming out of me.  He wanted food, he wanted immediately and he wanted me to fix it.  

"That's a no can do, Zach.  I don't have the energy or the desire to feed you right now.  Right now all I want to do is to sit down with this cup of tea your sister fixed me.  Right now, I just want to relax," I told him.  But he didn't stop the assault.  He kept trying to guilt me into getting his lunch on a plate in front of him.  

I'm happy to say I didn't cave and fix Zach's lunch yesterday.  But I'm a little mortified that he would be so persistent in trying to persuade me to get him something to eat when I obviously didn't feel well.  So I offer a blanket apology to his future wife.  I know she'll curse me all the sick days of her life when all she wants is a cup of tea and a quiet place to sit and Zach can't see what she really needs.  

Claire's future husband, on the other hand, will be on cloud nine with someone who is almost instantly aware of the feelings and ailments of others.  

Lucas is somewhere in between.  He's willing and able to take care of himself.  He doesn't demand that his needs come before the others, but he's also not out there asking what he can do for someone who isn't feeling their best.  

I know there are innate differences between boys and girls, men and women.  But I have to wonder if I made these differences worse by not demanding more out of Zach and asking less out of Claire.  Or is the difference simply a product of their widely varying personalities?  I don't think I'll ever know, but I do know that anyone, anywhere would love to be pampered just a little when they don't feel well. I have much work to do with Zach and Lucas.  I don't want their future wives to be impacted by this massive difference.  I want the boys to also be able to offer a cup of tea, quiet place to sit and a little tender loving care when someone isn't feeling well.

Oh, for the love of my children...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Saying Goodbye to the End of an Era

Yesterday was a momentous day in our house.  Yesterday we said good-bye, not farewell, not see you later and not until we meet again.  It was a full on good-bye.  That good-bye marked the end of an era.

Yesterday we said, "Good-bye, Friend" to the TRVLN ZU.

Last week, we bought a new car.  One that replaces my beloved TRVLN ZU.  Last week I graduated from mommy-van to a big girl car.  There are no more sliding doors or snacks ground into the interior.  There are no more carseat marks on seats.  There is no longer any need for the power sliding doors and carseats.  My kids are big now.  They can open and close car doors.  They don't need ziplock bags full of snacks to keep them occupied.  That era has ended.   

Last week when we bought the new car, the staff asked me if I wanted to trade in the TRVLN ZU but I just couldn't do it.  At that very minute, I froze as my throat closed up and tears welled in my eyes.  I mentally kicked myself for allowing crazy emotions to take over all because of a car.  Stan teased me repeatedly saying, "It's not like we're putting a dog to sleep!  It's a CAR!"  But is it really just a car?  

Not to me.  To me, it was an extension of our house and our kids.  It was part of the family.  The TRVLN ZU has been a part of so much of our lives.  

I bought the van all by myself.  In 2005 Stan had a crazy work schedule and couldn't help me buy a new car.  So I did my research, test drove a couple of Toyota Siennas, picked out the one I wanted, negotiated the deal and signed all the paperwork without him.  I drove it home, opened the garage door and pulled inside.  Stan didn't lay eyes on the van until he pulled in the garage later that evening.  He climbed in, climbed all the way in the back, put the middle seats down and put up his feet.  Stan declared right then and there it was the nicest car he had ever owned.  And I smiled a happy smile knowing I did OK.  

The van had 12 miles on it when I drove it home.  It had 188,738 miles when we sold it to Carmax yesterday.  188,726 miles we put on it.  188,726 miles we lived in it.  So many memories were made in the TRVLN ZU.  It took the kids to a from school, faithfully.  It got us to a from any and all hockey games, tournaments, practices and hockey get togethers, without a worry in the world.  It took us to dance competitions, swim meets and recitals, with an unrivaled loyalty.  The TRVLN ZU took us to many a beach vacation, packing in every imaginable piece of equipment we could ever need.  The van took us to lacrosse games and tournaments, happily.  It took loads of kids and friends anywhere and everywhere we needed and wanted to go, and it did it perfectly.  The TRVLN ZU was an extension of our home.  

Yesterday, not only did we say "Good-bye" to a faithful friend but we also said, "Good-bye" to the end of an era.  We no longer need what the mommy-van stands for.  Not only have I graduated to a big-girl car but the kids no longer need what the mommy-van provides.  And that makes me a little sad.  They have graduated too.  

Stan, Claire and I stood and watched as the guy at Carmax took the TRVLN ZU license plates off the van.

And my heart hurt a little bit as the plates flopped to the side.

I handed over the title to the TRVLN ZU and watched as it became someone else's.   

The plates to TRVLN ZU plates sat on the counter, empty and lonely without their van.
And my eyes stung a little.  Claire kept hugging me and saying it would be ok.  The van would be OK without us and us without it.  It was time to say good-bye to TRVLN ZU and the end of an era.  It's time to usher in a new era.  I know it'll be OK.  I just don't have to like it a whole lot.  Yet.

Oh, for the love of my children...

Monday, January 13, 2014

Ah, Crap! You're Back

An Open Letter to Mean Girls everywhere...

Hello Mean Girl.

It's been a while since I've seen you, but I remember you. I first met you when I became your target in High School.  I'm not exactly sure why I was targeted by you, but I was.  I was hunted down, ruthlessly, in the hallways by you.  I changed my daily routine at school so I didn't run across you and your posse.  I came to school as late as I could.  I left right after school.  I changed the way I got to and from classes.  My self-esteem took a huge hit.  But, here's a little confession for you, that I'm not sure you knew...I was almost one of you, for a while.  I tried to do the same things you did.  I worked at targeting those with lower self esteem than I had.  I wanted to make myself feel better, so I tried to belittle and exclude others who were "easy prey."  I know that's not a pretty term, nor was it a time in my life I'm proud of, but I grew up and put my mean girl persona behind me.  I was glad to leave her  in the dust.  Leaving "her" behind allowed me to forget about you...for a while.

In college I became  your target again.  Again, I'm not sure why.  I have no idea what put me in your crosshairs when you threw a drink in my face in the middle of a bar and laughed about it, and me, for months.  I have no idea why you wrote, "bitch" on my car in red lipstick.  Your treatment of  me then didn't do much to lower my self-esteem.  Instead, it made me burn with a white-hot rage.  Luckily, I was surrounded by a group of friends who repeated, over and over and over, "It's not worth it," when I all I wanted to do was retaliate.  I'm glad I had those friends surrounding me so closely.  I was able to forget about you all over again and it felt good.

I forgot about you for a long time.  I was too busy having babies and raising kids to think about you.  I had no reason to think about you.  Until I realized you grew up too and started having babies and raising kids of your own.  I was smacked in the face by memories of you when one of my boys was in 4th grade.  He confessed to having a crush on one of your daughters.  I learned quickly how well you taught your daughter, Mean Girl.  She proceeded to make sure to spread nice little lies and rumors about my son.  His self-esteem was lowered beyond imagination and I was stunned.  I was astounded  that you could teach your daughter, so well and so young, to target a nine year-old's self-esteem.  He begged me not to do anything.  I'm sorry to say I remained so dumbfounded.  I didn't know how to react.  So I let it go.  After that your presence, and that of your newly minted Mean Girl, faded into the background for a while.

But then you came flying back into my life, again, when another of your daughters targeted mine.  She hit her mark, and Claire reeled backwards.  She had never been the target of a mean girl.  She sobbed into my shoulder at the cruelty your daughter inflicted on her as she begged me not to do anything. But this time, Mama Bear came roaring to life.  This time, I didn't stand back and let the attacks continue.  It was a one and done deal.  I took care of your daughter-turned-Mean-Girl in the way an adult should.  Claire was never her target again.  And I'm happy to say I forgot about you again.

But now, I have to say, "Ah, Crap!  You're back," once more.  You seem to be everywhere, Mean Girl.  You came back into my life and this time not in the form of your daughter.  This time, you, The Original Mean Girl, are back.  I truly thought I had outgrown you, but here you are again, rearing your ugly head.  Like the last time I was your target, my self-esteem and self-worth are not affected by you.  But this time is different from the last time.  This time, there is no white hot rage.  Only a sad spark of pity that you haven't outgrown your high-school, mean-girl ways.  You seem to thoroughly enjoy making others feel bad about themselves by excluding and ostracizing.  What a pity that is.  In the face of that I will continue to enjoy welcoming new friends and keeping old friends.  You seem to thrive on drama and snarky comments.  I'm so sorry you do. So, I'll do what I can to tune out your negativity and bring on the sunshine.  You seem to thrive on making others feel bad by whispering behind their backs and making belittling comments.  What a shame.  Instead of allowing your whispering and belittling to get to me, I will put a smile on my face, and I will be polite when I am in contact with you.  So, now when I say, "Ah Crap!  You're back," it just serves to remind me of what I don't want to have in my life or become.

Let me go on to say, while my self-esteem and self-worth are no longer tied to you, my children are still vulnerable to you and attacks from your well-trained daughters.  So let me make one thing perfectly clear.  The white-hot rage I no longer feel when I think of you, sits just below the surface waiting to erupt if one of your well-taught, mean-girl daughters ever tries to strike out at one of my kids.  I will be waiting patiently and quietly.  I know you're back and your daughters are well equipped to deliver their worst.  My children will not be their targets again.  I've tried hard to teach my children as well as you've taught yours, only I hope I've taught mine a little differently than you've taught yours.

I'd like to expand on the last paragraph a little, if you wouldn't mind...

I'm not saying I'm always perfect in my treatment of others.  God knows I'm not, and I will be the first to admit it.  My children aren't angels either.  But you and I, and our children, we're different.  I work hard to try and teach my children compassion and concern for others.  I strive every day to make sure my kids' self-esteem is good while also trying to make sure they don't think too highly of themselves.  I think that's a small part of the difference between you and me.  I try to teach the right things.  Sometimes I fail and flounder, but I try hard to teach my kiddos to do and see the right things.  But there's more to the difference between you and me.  The rest of the difference is in one little sentence.  It's a sentence I work on drumming into myself and my kids everyday.  It's a simple sentence, really, but it's a powerful one.  Are you ready? "You don't have to be best friends with everyone, but you have to be kind."  I told you it was simple sentence.  And it's the difference between me and you.  I know I'm not perfect, no one is.  But that sentence sums up perfectly how others should be treated.  I try hard to keep that sentence in the forefront of my brain and the brains of my children.  I want them to remember to be kind, always.

So, Mean Girl, I can't seem to forget about you for long.  But I can minimize you.  And I will.  For the love of my children...


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

On Lockdown

Those have to be the two scariest words a parent could ever read when it comes to their kiddos at school.  Those two words are the ones my eyes focused on in the email I got at 12:55 this afternoon from Lucas' school.  His school was "on lockdown."  The cops were there, an increased presence, they said.  For more information they told us to come to a staging area.  My throat went dry, my stomach flipped and my heart nearly beat out of my chest as I read those words over and over and over again.

Stan and I were running errands together.  We stopped at the dry cleaner and Stan jumped out to pick up his shirts.  Since I was alone and a little bored, I decided to check my email.  That's when I saw the message from the county spokesman.  And then the texts came in from my friends.  "Have you heard from Lucas?"  "How is Lucas?"  "Is Lucas OK?"  Oh shit!  If my friends knew about it this had to be all over the news.  Their kids weren't students at Lucas' school.  Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit!!  My heart raced faster as those words looped through my head.  All alone in the car, I kept grabbing the handle of the car wanting jump out and run into the dry cleaners, grab Stan to tell him we had to race as fast as we could to the staging area.  But then I thought I'd look like a deranged, crazy person as I pictured myself running in shouting in a panicky voice that we had to go NOW!  Instead, I decided to gather my wits and will him to get back to the car NOW!

As soon as Stan opened the door I said, "We have to to go to Cross Ridge NOW!"  The hysteria was beginning to bubble in my chest as scenes of other schools' tragedies played through my head.  I could see, in my head, streams of kids running from their high school.  I could picture Lucas being led to safety by police squads.  I could picture carnage and crying parents.  I could picture every single scene I'd ever seen on TV, but this time it involved my kid and the kids of my friends.  This time it was our school and our kids.  I read Stan the email as he threw the car in reverse and headed toward the staging area where police waited to give us news about our kids.

As we drove I tapped out this frantic text to Lucas.

Me:  Are you ok?!?!?!  Please answer me.  I don't care if you get your phone taken away.

It seemed like it took forever for Lucas to answer as Stan flew through the streets filled with people going through their daily lives without a care or concern about what was happening at our high school.  I willed them to move almost as much as I willed Lucas to respond.  Finally...

Lucas: Yes I'm fine.  Don't worry.  The police are leaving now.
Lucas:  Sorry I didn't answer I had no 3G

Lucas answered.  He was fine.  He was safe.  If he was fine and safe the whole school must have been fine and safe too.  I finally exhaled the breath I had been holding since I read the email.  This is the text chain Lucas and I exchanged.

Me:  Oh thank God!!!!!
Me:  What happened??

Lucas: I will tell you later.

Me: Ok.  Stay safe and I LOVE YOU!!!!

Lucas:  I love you too, and don't worry I'm fine
Lucas:  Swat guy just came in the room with an M-16 checking on us and the kid is in custody.

Me: Oh thank God!!!!  I've never been more scared in my whole life!!

Lucas: We are all fine.  There is nothing to worry about.  I love you
Lucas:  The kid wasn't on campus but he was close!

Me:  How did they find out about him?

Lucas:  All I know is it was a male.  The police probably know more.

Me:  According to the news reports he was disturbed mentally.  Do you know who it was?

Lucas:  I know a lot of people that are disturbed mentally but I couldn't narrow it down.

God love Lucas and his levity!

Me: You just totally cracked me up!!

Lucas:  Good

About an hour later this is the text I got from Lucas....

Lucas:  You should definitely pick me up.  Lockdown is over.

In between Lucas' last text and the text asking me to pick him up, I texted Zach and asked him if he heard about Lucas' school.  The boys are at two different area high schools.  I figured the kids at Zach's school had heard about Lucas' school but I didn't know for sure.

Me:  Did you hear about Lucas' school.

Zach:  Yes.  I'm texting him.

The big brother.  My heart swelled.

Me:  Good!  I love you!!

The drama seemed to be over but I couldn't get the scenes out of my head and I couldn't stop thinking about Lucas' request to pick him up.  I remembered so many years ago when 9-11 happened and I wanted to pick up Zach from kindergarten.  Stan's advice was to just leave him at school.  He said he'd be fine.  I wanted Zach by me then almost as much as I wanted Lucas by me now.  I needed to go get him.  The instructional day was shot to shit as soon as the lockdown started.  I called the school to make sure I could get him and was given the green light.  I put my car in drive and headed it toward Lucas.

This is what I saw as I pulled up to school...

The line of cars waiting to turn in surpassed the driveway in to school and the left turn lane.  The media was there in droves.  The police presence was still massive.  The student population was beyond ready to leave and be home with their families.

The tears were threatening to spill again.  I needed Lucas.  I needed to hug him.  I texted him to let him know I was there.  I didn't know how this was going to play out.  I didn't know how long it was going to take me to get him, but I knew I'd do whatever I needed to see his smiling face.  Seeing his smile would take my tears away.  

I walked toward the front of the school after parking my car.  The police were there, keeping everything orderly and calm.  The parents shared a bit of community and camaraderie.  We were all in this together, and we knew it as we chatted quietly and waited for our children to come to us.  Lucas' face finally appeared just beyond the glass doors.  His smile was quiet and his wave is reserved, but he was there and he's safe.  

We walked to the car together and Lucas' stories came out...  

The lockdown is announced.  No one knows if this is real or a drill.  The teachers haven't heard about a planned drill.  It's real.  The first police enter the building with riot gear.  They're followed by police rifles, police snipers and the Swat Team.  They go door to door.  Sometimes bursting through and demanding hands up from students and teachers alike.  In Lucas' room the policeman enters, introduces himself and makes sure they're safe.  Some classes are in a hide and lock status.  Some, like Lucas', are not.  Some classes are searched vigorously for guns and ammo.  Some are secured.  The police presence grows.  The teachers work to keep the students calm.  Most of the student body remains composed, but there are some tears and anxiety.  The kids see the pictures coming in from news sites.  The pictures come in from Twitter.  The kids see it as we were seeing it.  Social media spread the news like wildfire.  Slowly, methodically, the lockdown ends with a young man in custody and the police packing up their weapons.  The lockdown is over.

My heart stops racing as I hug, touch and pat Lucas, over and over and over.  He tells me about the texts between Zach and him.  Zach's worry was evident as I read through the texts when we got home.  Lucas worked hard to keep us both calm.  When Zach first texted him with "What's going on at your school?"  Lucas responded with "We're on lockdown.  But don't tell mom.  I don't want her to freak out."  Zach texts back and says he won't and then went on to ask so many times, "Are y'all hiding?" and "Are you still locked down?"  Lucas responded with things like "No.  We're still in the same class and it's boring."  Or, "The swat guy just came in with an M-16 and it was hype!" Or better yet, "This is boring AF!"  (I'll leave you to figure that one out.)  Lucas is one of a kind who worked so hard to be a protector of us all.  

I can't tell you how appreciative I am of Lucas' school, his teachers, the administration, the counseling office, the school resource officer and especially the entire Henrico County police force for the their swift response, organized actions and quick location of a student who we now know needs help coping with something he couldn't work through on his own.  Every single department in the school and the police force took this situation seriously.  All of our kids are safe and home with us now because of them.  Things could have been much different if all of these entities didn't.  My thanks to them knows no bounds.

Lucas is home.  Neither he, nor his friends are on lockdown anymore.

For the love of all of our children...  

Monday, January 6, 2014

Busyness be damned.

The other day I shared a blog link titled Busy isn't respectable anymore, by Tyler Ward. For me it was so refreshing to hear him sum up what he had to say with this disclaimer at the end of his piece, Being busy, in this context, is not synonymous with being hard working or productive or effective. Also, this article is calling into question busyness for busyness sake. Busyness by necessity, at least for a season, is an entirely different conversation.  His words served as a backup to what I've been trying, without being able to put an exact finger on it, to accomplish since school ended last June.

I. Want. To. Slow. Life. Down.

Zach is graduating this coming June.  A mere six months from now I'll have a high school graduate.  Lucas is eligible to get his learner's permit (God help us all) in May, actually exactly five months from today.  Claire wears mascara now with more regularity than going without it, and she now plans her outfits for the week ~ there are now very few days with t-shirts and sweatpants as the uniform of her day.  The kids are growing up right before my very eyes and I want to be fully immersed in them and what they want to do right now.  Busyness be damned.

At the beginning of last summer, I realized I was tired of saying with a sigh and a shrug, "I'm so busy.  Always running.  Always going.  Schedules. Schedules. And more schedules."  It seemed to me like a vast competition started somewhere along the path of parenthood with moms and dads everywhere vying for the top spot of busiest parent.  So this past summer I'm pretty sure I made a subconscious, and yes I said subconscious on purpose, decision to try and stop the madness.  I wanted to get off the hamster wheel.  I wanted to slow down, but I didn't really know how so I just kind of went into a vicious tailspin, Top Gun style.  I just plopped down in the water after my parachute deployed and floated waiting to be rescued from the busyness of life.  I stayed rooted in my spot until things got really weird.  I started making excuses because I was embarrassed I wasn't, and didn't wan to be, on the "I'm so busy" train anymore.

Maybe some thought I fell off the damned busy train.  But in hindsight, I actually I think I jumped.  And I have to say now that this is quite a refreshing place to be.  I'm more connected with my kids and Stan.  Now, when they ask me to go somewhere or do something with them, I try my hardest to say not only, "yes," but "YESSIREE-BOB!! Let's go!"  I think Claire feels the shift.  I know Stan feels it.  There's more time for them and less time of me saying, "Just a minute.  I'm busy."

I'm not saying I'm doing this perfectly.  I'm not even saying I'm doing it OK.  Nor am I trying criticize others for being on the busy train. But I am saying, for me, busyness can be damned.  My kids are growing up too doggone fast and I don't want to miss it.  I don't want to have regrets.  I don't want to look back on these next years as all of my kiddos prepare to fly the nest and say, "Oh, I wish I would have spent more time with them."

So maybe my books aren't churning out quite like I'd like them to.  Maybe I haven't posted blogs or stayed on top of my author page as much as I should.  But the blog ideas are churning and my books are here, being slowly and methodically worked on during the times when no one is around and the house is quiet.  Like today.  Today is a perfect writing day.  It's Monday.  I'm home, in a quiet house, with a fluffy white dog at my feet, and I'm doing exactly what I need to do at a time it can be done.  I've connected with a little bit of idleness to allow my brain to create again.  I've written two blog posts today and have one more in the works.  I think reading Tyler Ward's blog gave me the freedom to know that it's OK to give up the busyness, and admit it.  And with that freedom came a link back to my creative, writing side, instead of just my creative baking side (our waistlines will all be thankful).  Now I know I don't have to be embarrassed by not being so busy. Don't get me wrong, there is still a certain amount of busyness to my life that won't be gone until Claire is, but now I know it's OK to not have to keep up with everyone and their sighs about their busy, busy lives. My afternoon will come fast and furious and I'll have to get back on the busy train for a little bit, but it's nothing like it was before.  And I'm happy I finally figured out that it's OK to damn the busy train and focus on the people in my life.  I'm happy I can say, "I'm not too busy for you.  Let's spend some time together."  In the end the important things in life, to me, are friends and family.  Busyness, for the sake of busyness, and feeling important, only gets in the way of what I really want in life.

I hope this explains my absence from the blogosphere and the author-sphere.  I hope you'll stick with me as I work in my new way...toward less busy and more life.  

Oh, for the love of my children....

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Have You Ever

Have you ever stepped back and looked at your children as other's might see them instead of how you see them in your mind's eye?

I had the opportunity to do that the other day.  Stan, the kids and I were standing and talking with old friends we used to see nearly every waking  minute of our weekends, but now rarely see anymore.  Back in the day when both boys played hockey and we were at the rink almost constantly we saw these friends with a regularity I couldn't count on with my mailman.  Their oldest and Zach played on the same team together for years.  Our two oldest are in the same grade, in the same high school so we see them at Zach's events, but Lucas and Claire haven't seen these friends in two, or more, years.

And it was interesting to see the dynamic shift and morph.  The last time we saw these friends Lucas was still, what I considered, to be little.  He was a goofy jokester who never met a stranger.  He had a little, high-pitched, squeaky voice.  His hair was nearly white blond and I was still taller than he was.

I stood back the other day as Lucas interacted with our friends.  He didn't look like the little boy I still have pictured in my mind.  He looked like a young man working hard to overcome a shyness that has permeated his persona.  He looked our friends in the eye as he spoke to them about his plans for high school, hockey and beyond.  His deep, rich voice spoke with a clarity I'm not sure he knows he has.  He looked like he was striving to be exactly what he wants to be ~ a little more grown-up, self-assured and poised in the face of talking to adults.  For the first time, I saw him how other's might see him and not  how I picture him in my head and I was blown away with that little bit of insight.

I don't know why it blew me away to see Lucas as a little more mature.  I'm pretty sure I always saw Zach exactly how he was or pushed him to be a little more grown-up than he actually was.  But with Lucas it's been the exact opposite.  I've kept him in perpetuity at the age of 12 or 13.  I guess I needed the opportunity to see what others see.

Stan asked me what today's blog is all about and I sketched it out for him by saying, "It's about seeing our kids as they really are and not what we imagine them to be."

He responded, "Ah, it's from Harry Potter."

Last night we watched the first Harry Potter movie.  (Shocker --- Stan had never seen it before.)  And as Stan said that this blog idea is from the scene in Harry Potter where he finds the Mirror of the Erised, sees his parents and is told by Dumbledore,"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that," it kind of hit me ~ I may have subconsciously worked a little Harry Potter into this blog.  So...maybe I still want to see Lucas as my little, blond boy.  Maybe that's one of my deepest heart's desires, to keep him little and sweet and goofy.  Maybe I really didn't want to see him as he really is.  Or maybe  it's just that I hadn't ever let myself see him as he really is.  Whatever the reason, I'm happy to say I now have seen a more grown-up Lucas and couldn't be more proud of the young man he is striving to become.

Oh, for the love of my children...